Moms the world over have this image in their head of the perfect baby. They have seen it on TV, in the movies, and whenever they’ve visited the newborn of a loved one. The button nose, that soft skin, and that lovely, intoxicating smell are among the expectations of every mother. Babies – boys and girls – are simply delicious. There is no doubt about it.
Keeping these babies clean and pristine – and just as perfect as they imagined – are among the top priorities of moms. That’s why many of them are obsessed with giving their babies baths. There are entire lines of products designed to encourage that bath time ritual and pamper little bodies. There are soaps with scents meant to help baby drift off to sleep better.
What new parent doesn’t want that kind of miracle worker?
Certainly, bath time is also a chance for parent-baby bonding. Everyone whips out the smart phones and gets to taping baby’s bath because of the opportunity for adorable moments captured on film. As babies get older, there’s splashing and bath toys and all sorts of fun. One can’t go wrong with a nice, warm bath before bedtime, right?
Actually, new and veteran parents alike make some mistakes when it comes to bath time. People never seem to talk about these errors, and some don’t even realize they’re committing them. Of course, parents never want to make any sort of errors with their babies, so they need to educate themselves about the bathing process.
Discover some of the mistakes parents commonly make when bathing their babies:
15 Leaving Baby Alone In The Tub
Babies and young children can drown in as little as two inches of water, so parents should never leave them alone in the tub or even the bathroom. Some children have even drowned by falling head first into the toilet, according to the Today Show. The same article goes on to say that the majority of drownings happen in the home, in fact 2/3 of them in the bathtub, even when there’s less than 2 inches of water.
In addition, the Consumer Products Safety Commission warns parents that parents should never leave children in a tub alone, nor should they leave another older child to watch one who is younger. The CPSC also wants parents to know about the dangers of leaving children in safety bath seats or tubs unattended.
Sometimes, these accessories give parents a false sense of security, but the seats and tubs can overturn. If adults ever have to leave the bathroom when a child is in the bath, they should bring the child with them. While experts in these articles say that some 4 year olds are capable of staying on their own, parents should use their own judgment and still stay close by in case of an emergency.
14 Dropping The Ball (Err, Baby)
Wet babies are slippery, especially smaller ones. Sometimes, parents have butterfingers. To avoid dropping the baby, parents should make sure they have a good grip on the child before lifting and moving him or her. They should also wash off any soap, which can increase the slippery factor, before attempting to move the baby.
Using a plastic tub with grips on the bottom or the kitchen sink, which are smaller and more manageable than a standard bathtub also makes it easier to handle the baby. Having a towel to dry their hands before preparing to move the baby also helps.
With newborns, when possible, parents might also aid each other. One can lift the baby out of the tub and the other can catch him or her with a dry towel, which is better for gripping, too. Often, moms want to multitask and shower while holding baby. While that desire is understandable, safety protocols preclude this option.
13 Using The Big Tub For A Little Baby
Using a smaller vessel, such as a plastic baby tub or the kitchen sink, does not just help parents more easily grasp and contain baby at bath time. It also allows parents to use a more reasonable amount of water, which makes the bath prep more efficient and the bath itself less overwhelming for the little guy or girl.
While there’s no need to spend lots of money on the tub – they certainly could use a bucket from the dollar store or their sink (it works, people) – parents might consider the mini spa tubs that feature streaming water or accessories that allow the, to easily wet baby’s skin, so he or she does not catch cold during the bath.
Most importantly, however, parents will be more comfortable with a smaller tub option. A regular tub generally means that the attending adult has to sit on her knees and hang over the side of the tub to hold the baby, which is challenging. It could also cause mom or dad to lose hold of the baby more easily. Simply, a smaller tub makes the whole process more manageable.
12 Too Much Bath Time
Giving babies too many baths is one of the top mistakes parents make. There is this notion that baby must be pristine at all times. Reality is a whole other story. The fact is that most babies – until they are crawling and drooling as a result of teething – don’t really get all that dirty.
As long as parents are thoroughly cleaning the diaper area before each diaper change, then babies don’t need a daily bath. Newborns, who still have their umbilical stump, should only get sponge baths as necessary. And older babies will be fine with just a few baths per week.
Too much bathing can dry out baby’s skin, which can be uncomfortable and increase the likelihood of baby scratching him or herself. Studies suggest that too much bathing can even increase the likelihood of eczema, characters as patches of dry, itchy, inflamed skin, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Scientists increasingly believe that environmental factors, such as bathing, pollutants and indoor heating, can disrupt the skin’s ability to keep moisture in and allergens and microbes out,” writes Dana Wechsler Linden in the WSJ. “A weakened skin barrier—the outermost layer—allows outside irritants to penetrate the skin and spark an immune-system response.”
11 Using Too Much Soap
Another way to dry out baby’s skin is to use too much soap on his or her skin. Therefore, this is another reason to refrain from daily baths. Parents must use gentle cleansers designed for baby’s sensitive skin.
In fact, many turn to antibacterial soaps thinking that they are somehow better at fending off illness, which can be dangerous for baby, whose immune system is sill underdeveloped and delicate. That’s why some of the additives that can be found in baby soaps can actually have a drying effect on a baby’s skin.
So, parents should survey the ingredients if they have doubts, and do some research if they have questions. And they also should just avoid using too much soap in general. One small nickel-sized dollop of a gentle soap or shampoo should suffice for body and hair respectively.
10 Failing To Clean Vital Parts
While babies don’t require a scrubbing everyday in the way that toddlers and elementary-age children might, they still have some extra sensitive parts that need to stay clean. For starters, parents must thoroughly wash baby’s nether region after every urination and bowel movement. Sometimes, this will require a bath.
At other times, a thorough washing with a cloth or wipe will be enough. Whatever method is used, adults must make sure to clean the nooks and crannies. Improper washing can cause diaper rash, infections, or even some illnesses. In addition, uncircumcised boys require some special rules of hygiene, at least once their foreskin is retractable.
Doctors at Web MD suggest that once the foreskin is easy to retract, clean under it daily. Parents can do this by gently pushing the foreskin back as far as possible toward the body and carefully wash the entire area with warm water. When mom or dad is finished, they should place the foreskin back over the head of the penis to where it sits normally.
9 Allowing Baby To Get An Earful
Typical ear infections that babies often get are not a result of water in the ears, so parents don’t have to be overly concerned if some water gets in there at bath time. Still, water in the ears can be downright uncomfortable. Adults who have gotten water stuck in their ears know the feeling. No parent wants their baby to suffer.
According to BabyCenter, babies are susceptible to swimmer’s ear when water gets trapped in the ear canal and errodes the skin’s protective lining and changing the pH balance which means the ear is more prone to fungi growth and bacteria. The good news about this is that this is usually from pool or lake water or baby sticking something in his or her ear and not bath water.
Another way parents might make an error with baby’s ears at bath time is by using cotton swabs. Parents should avoid using what is often referred to by the brand name Q-tips. Parents should avoid using any type of swab in the baby’s ear. Parents can unknowingly puncture their baby’s ear drum or cause damage to other parts of their baby’s ear.
8 Washing With Abrasive Cleansers
To get an idea of which products are best, Parents magazine has offered its opinion on the subject. But parents should not feel forced to buy one of the products on the list or anything pricey that claims to be free of allergens and perfectly safe for baby. Instead, they should pay attention to their own child and his or her skin.
Test baby washes and shampoos and see what works best. Certainly, parents can take advantage of sales or the ability to buy the products in bulk to save money. Just make sure the product is genuinely gentle. Abrasive soaps can hurt baby, and parents should avoid using their own body washes and bar soaps on the baby.
Again, washing the baby with soap and water too often will dry out the skin, which can cause irritation and inflammation, which can cause discomfort to baby. Choosing the wrong cleansers can be harmful even if parents are bathing baby less frequently.
7 Too Hot Or Too Cold
Water temperature is an important detail of baby’s bath. Often, parents use bath time to create a routine and help baby sleep better. A bath that is too cold might not have the soothing effect parents are going for. A bath that is too hot could literally burn baby.
One mother says she brought her baby to the hospital and found she had suffered first-degree burns, similar to a sunburn, which was a result of the bath water being too hot. To avoid this, parents should test the water their hand or elbow before placing baby in the bath.
Also, parents should never put baby in the bath until the tub is full because the running water could change temperature suddenly, according to Baby Center. On the other hand, an ice bath is not ideal either. A freezing baby will not be calm. The bathroom itself should also be kept warm. The Mayo Clinic suggests the ideal water temperature for baby’s bath is 100 degrees F.
6 Too Much Or Too Little
Getting the amount of water just right is another issue parents must address. Really, babies don’t need a tub full of water like an adult or older child would. Using two inches of warm water is enough, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some parents believe that more water is better because it helps baby stay warm.
There is some truth to that, but the risks of baby falling into deeper waters and being harder to contain in a heavy tub full of water outweigh the warmth factor. Instead, parents should simply use a warm washrag to consistently squeeze warm water on the skin that is untouched by tub water. A small cup for pouring water onto the skin also works to keep baby warm in the water.
Another way to prevent a baby from getting the chills is to make sure the bathroom itself is warm and to keep the bath short. Adults don’t need a lot of time to wash or sooth baby to ready him or her for a relaxing nap or night.
5 Choosing The Right Time
Parents often think they have to make bath time a nighttime ritual. Certainly, a warm bath can be a practical tool when trying to calm baby down and help him or her unwind after a long day. Some parents say that using products with the scent of lavender or other scent designed to calm encourage a good night’s sleep, too.
But some babies do just as well with morning or midday baths. They might help baby take a nap. Sometimes, something happens, such as an extreme bowel movement, that force parents to move up the bath. That’s okay. Go with the flow. Parents should figure out what works best for their baby. They should not feel constrained to nighttime.
If the evening works best, that’s fine. But there are other options adults can consider when making baby’s schedule. What is important is that parents make a routine for baby because that provides stability and security. Babies like to know what’s coming, and the daily schedule helps.
4 Failing To Dry Baby Well
Baby needs to be dried well after each bath. For starters, a wet baby in pajamas is an uncomfortable baby in pajamas, which defeats the purpose of having a bath to sooth the child. Being wet out of the water can also make the baby feel cold, which will cause discomfort and some tears probably, too.
Also, a wet diaper area could potentially make the diaper last less time, which will require parents to change the baby more frequently, not to mention a wet diaper increases the chances of the baby getting a fungal infection of some sort. Parents should wrap baby in a towel and lie him or her on the floor or changing table and thoroughly dry being the ears, the genital area, belly, back, and legs.
Of course, if the baby’s hair is wet, they must gently dry it. Some use a cool blow dryer and others prefer a towel, depending on the amount of hair baby has. Of course, parents must make sure to dry between the folds of baby’s skin. Finally, once baby is thoroughly dry, parents should quickly and carefully dress baby to keep him or her warm.
3 Washing The Hair Debacle
Washing a baby’s hair can be traumatic for parent and child alike. Many kids hate having their hair washed. Frankly, there is little parents can do to make the process easier. Parents must prevent shampoo from getting in their baby’s eyes, even if it’s as gentle as baby’s own tears.
First, parents should wet baby’s hair without getting water in the eyes either. Many find using a plastic baby visor or simply leaning baby’s head back helps. Then, they should use no more than a small dollop of shampoo to prevent too many suds from forming. Using a washrag to wash hair on smaller babies also works well, especially if the baby doesn’t have much hair or is bald.
If soap does get in the baby’s eye, don’t panic. Use a warm, wet washrag to gently wash out the soap from the eye. Comfort baby with a hug and quick removal from the tub. In fact, the washing of the hair should be done at the end of the bath since it doesn’t always go as well as the rest of the bath.
2 Speeding Through The Bath
Yes, baby’s bath should not take a long time. But speeding through the bath is not always the right move either. Parents should give babies a chance to splash around a little, play with a toy or two, relax, and get washed well. Parents should be as efficient as possible because the water can get cold.
But the baby can last in the tub up to 15 minutes. And it’s not like Cinderella at midnight. A minute more is not going to make the carriage turn back into a pumpkin, so to speak. The only real concern is that the water gets chilly or the baby gets restless. Parents should pay attention to their child’s demeanor to figure out when it’s time to end bath time.
1 Failing To Maximize The Bonding
Bath time is an ideal opportunity for parent and baby bonding. This is a good chance to get to know one another in a more relaxed atmosphere than when one is feeding baby or tending to other matters in the home. Often, parents are caring for baby while multitasking.
They might be cradling baby and answering emails and phone calls or trying to clean the kitchen or cook dinner. Of course, many parents keep full-time jobs and only have a limited amount of time with their child. At bath time, parents must put all their focus and attention on the baby for safety reasons.
Bath time also gives them a chance to close the door on the rest of the world and just enjoy time with their child. Giving one’s child a bath is also part of building a healthy routine, which provides security to baby. Parents should recognize bath time as a chance for growing closer to their baby and learning his or her preferences and temperament, not to mention having fun together.
Sources: BabyCenter, Web MD, Wall Street Journal, Parents, Time, The Bump